Western Caribbean Cruise with Nikon. Advice?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Waybo, Mar 7, 2011.

  1. Waybo macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2011
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    #1
    Hello!

    I'm new to DSLR photography, having received my D3100, my first DSLR, for Christmas.

    I'm planning a cruise (another first!) ... heading to the Western Caribbean in the fairly near future. We'll have about 24 hours in the greater Miami area before we head out, and then we will travel westward, with stops in George Town (Grand Cayman), Cozumel and Puerto Costa Maya (Mexico) and Roatan (Honduras).

    I expect we will have some fairly decent photo opportunities. :) Can anyone make any recommendations for things to see/do … and what to bring?


    I'm planning on bringing my Nikon D3100 w/ Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3, my tripod and remote trigger. I have a UV filter on the lens. My memory card holds 16 Gigs, but it fills alarmingly fast as I usually shoot in Raw+JPG, on the off-change that I get the shot of a lifetime. (Someday that will happen!)

    I'll bring my card reader and some blank DVR's. Would you recommending bringing my 17" MacBook Pro? (They have and "iLounge" on the Celebrity Eclipse, with Mac's. How much time will I have to wait to access one?) I don't know of any way to transfer files to my Ipad without a WIFI card or without being able to attach it to a computer. :mad:

    This is all that I have. Budget is tight -- the last hurrah before returning to work after being laid off over a year ago. But is there anything I should really try to purchase before I go? I'm thinking about a spare battery, and maybe a polarized filter and maybe a diffuser for the built-in flash? I'm thinking of just a few accessories, as, most likely, another lens is out of the question right now. However, your recommendations might help some other newbie ... or me on my next excursion.

    I don't see any reason to bring the kit lens … do you???

    Thanks so much for any info or insights you can share. :D

    ~ Waybo
     
  2. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Folding space
    #2
    This sounds like the cruise my wife won at the casino, except we depart from New Orleans. I have been thinking about taking a minimal amount of gear, perhaps even just buying a good point and shoot for the trip. If I take my DSLR I will stick to a basic good standard zoom, or rent one of the better lenses. I would really hate to load up all of my gear and have it stolen..:eek: As for photo storage, I'm just going to take a few SD cards and worry about editing when I get back.

    Enjoy your trip.

    Dale
     
  3. epb87 macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2006
    Location:
    Chicago
    #3
    Ha, it's a coincidence that the ad on the bottom of the page was for "75% off caribbean cruise"

    I think you will be pretty well equipped for your trip. If you don't end up taking your computer, make sure you have enough storage for all the photos you take!

    I am heading to Hawaii in a week and a half and will be taking my father's D200 (he's letting me borrow it for the next few months) and 16-85 mm f/3.5, a couple memory cards, battery charger, and a circular polarizer. I'm relatively new to DSLR photography at this point as well but I think I'll have everything I need. I may try and bring my tripod as well. I hope it fits as part of my carry on!
     
  4. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Folding space
    #4
  5. wilhelmreems macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2010
    #5
    personally, i would proceed with caution in bringing the laptop. internet access on a cruise can be extremely expensive and slow, and if you're only using the laptop to transfer photos, you'll essentially be carrying a heavy memory card.

    You mention shooting in RAW and JPEG, mind if i ask why both?

    my advice, invest in a high capacity memory card with a backup or two.

    also, i would suggest the nikon 50mm 1.8 lens. it's pretty cheap, about $100. It's great for low light when you don't want to use flash, it's lightweight, and has wonderful Depth of Field.
     
  6. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Location:
    375th St. Y
    #6
    no coincidence there. If you are viewing a page tlakinga bout xoom vs iPad google will show you ads about xooms or ipads. It is even specific enough that I remember reading a thread about fish sticks and it was showing me ads for van de kamps or whatever fish sticks coupons.

    Also, OP- Why do you shoot RAW + JPG? As far as i know, there is NO reason to shoot "+ JPG", Shooting plain old RAW will be faster and lighter.
     
  7. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    #7
    If you only have the one memory card then I would bring the laptop so you can download the images if you need to. I've been slowly expanding my collection, but then again I have three bodies to keep fed with memory cards. ;)

    If you remember to charge your battery every night then I would get another SD card before an extra battery. I haven't used the D3100 but older Nikons can go forever between charges. One charge might last you the entire trip.

    I do the same thing. It probably doesn't make a lot of sense in the long run but it does give me a choice if I need to do something quick with a JPG. I fire off a quick resize/crop without having to process the NEF.
     
  8. wilhelmreems macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2010
    #8

    i guess that's the difference, i'm not a big in-camera-edit kind of guy, so i don't normally see the point in shooting both formats.
     
  9. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    #9
    I've never edited a picture in camera. On the other hand I went to Guatemala for Easter with the family. We did a group portrait and I emailed the JPG files to everybody so see what they liked the best. No need to convert every NEF to JPG just so they could look at them.

    I often ask myself why I take both but so far I haven't come up with a convincing reason to do it or to stop. :)
     
  10. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #10
    There's nothing better than a circular polarizer for travel to the tropics... I highly recommend it. It cuts reflection off water, atmospheric haze, and plants (what else is there in the Caribbean :p) I would order from maxsaver.net (based in HK) very reputable, unbeatable prices, and free shipping although it takes a week to 10 days.

    Make sure you have enough storage, either take more memory cards or dump your card daily to your laptop (which is a perfectly viable solution).

    Enjoy!
     
  11. bob5820 macrumors 6502a

    bob5820

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    Location:
    35°0′36″N 80°40′45″W (35.0
    #11
    Not to mention its also one of the sharpest lenses Nikon makes. Without doubt the best bang for the buck in the Nikkor line up.

    I'd also second the recommendation for a circular polarizer, other than that the only thing I'd recommend would be a spare memory card or two. Depending on your budget and which deals are available I'd go for two smaller capacity cards rather than a single large card. Loose your only 16GB card and you have lost all your pictures. Loose one of the two 8GB cards you have and you've only lost half your pictures.
     
  12. rusty2192 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Location:
    Kentucky
    #12
    $29 iPad Camera Connection Kit. Solves you problem for freeing space, and acts as a backup. This is what I do on trips and it works great. If your camera uses CF cards, any basic USB CF card reader works with the USB dongle included. It will store and display all of your RAW files and transfers them all intact to your computer when you get home. At least it does with my Canon, so I would assume it handles Nikon's RAW files the same. We are about to book a cruise on th Carnival Dream for mid May for our 1 year anniversary, and this is what I plan on doing with the files from my T2i. We will hit most of those same ports.

    VirtualRain: Thanks for posting all of your photos from your cruise on the POTD thread. It is what convinced me (and then my wife) to do a cruise instead of the all-inlcusive in Mexico that we had been planning on. I like the variety of sights instead of just seeing the same thing for a whole week. Kind of off topic, I know, but i felt it was worth mentioning.
     
  13. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #13
    Wow... glad my photos helped in some way. BTW, I agree... I'm not the kind of person that can just relax on a deck chair staring at the same view for 7 days. :) I'm sure you'll get lots of fantastic photos. I'll be looking forward to seeing them here when you get back!
     
  14. Waybo thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2011
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    #14
    Thank you!

    Thank you all for your advice.

    In answer to your question, why do I shoot in Raw+JPG: The author of "D3100 for Dummies" recommends shooting both if you can, and happily, my card is big enough so that I can. Most of what I've been shooting to date (birds in my yard and family shots) isn't worth keeping in Raw, or taking the time to adjust. But there are a few that I felt were worth the effort.

    Incidentally, while looking at Trip Adviser, I found an interesting walking tour of Cozumel, Mexico. The tour leader is an "award winning" photographer, who teaches you how to use your camera and helps you get better shots. Sounds like a good intro to that city! :D

    Thanks again,

    Waybo
     
  15. Waybo thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2011
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    #15
    Follow up

    We are back, and we had a nice trip!

    In case this helps someone else:

    I brought my DSLR, and was glad I did. I couldn't have taken all the shots I did without it. I'm still new to photography, but I took a LOT of pictures, learned some, and am still learning by reviewing what I did.

    I ended up bringing my laptop, and was glad I did. We backed up both cameras every evening. Our point and shoot ended up staying in Costa Maya, at the end of our 4th day at sea. (I THINK it was dumbness on our part). Since I had everything in the computer, (and burned to DVD), we only lost that day's photos. I (reluctantly!) agreed to not use internet onboard; it WAS expensive!

    In addition to my DSLR, I also brought a point and shoot that can be used in the water. (We've had ours a bit, but an Olympus Stylus Touch that goes in water down to 10 feet can be found starting under $200). While our water shots weren't great, we have some good reminders of swimming with the sting rays, and would have had some of the coral reefs, if it hadn't disappeared. Experience with a camera in the water would have improved things: watching for water drops on the lens is a good practice, we learned when it was too late.

    One of the best things I did was replace the "free" Nikon bag that came with the camera. I purchased a Velocity Series bag from Tamrac. It was very comfortable to bring my camera everywhere we went. Spraying it (before I packed it!) with a waterproof spray for tents helped with the ease of mind.

    For those who are learning photography, we can recommend the walking tour with award-winning photographer, Tati Biermas. She worked with both of our cameras to help us get better photos, as she showed us her pretty island of Cozumel, Mexico, and told us about its history. http://cozumelphototour.blogspot.com/

    I didn't need a new chip or a new battery. I enjoyed the circular polarizing filter and diffuser. I used the tripod, but not enough. (Tripod and remote gave me some shots of us on our balcony that were as good as any the onboard photographers took!) I'd like the 50 mm lens that was recommended. Since I'm still taking 10 (or more!) shots to get a decent one, and spending a lot of time figuring out my settings, my dear spouse would have more patience in lens switching when my skills have improved!

    Thank you all again for your suggestions and information.

    ~Waybo
     
  16. rusty2192 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Location:
    Kentucky
    #16
    I'm glad it all worked out for you. It sounds like you had a great time in Cozumel. Did you do much in Roatan? We will be there in May and that is what I am looking forward to the most. We have a private tour set up, and I am hoping our guide knows the best places for photos. It looks like a beautiful island. I can't wait.
     
  17. Waybo thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2011
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    #17
    Shore Excursions

    rusty2192:

    Cozumel, our second stop, was lovely, but the part we saw was very much geared to tourists. (EVERYONE was continually trying to persuade you into visiting their store.) Despite that, it was a pretty town with many interesting photo ops! Our excursion, lead by a professional photographer, Tatjana Biermas, ended up with just the two of us. The tour was very good, and lasted an hour longer than it should have. We booked with Tati before we left through http://cozumelphototour.blogspot.com/. I could easily spend an entire vacation here on Cozumel.

    But before Cozumel, our first stop, Grand Cayman, was the most fun. Before leaving, we booked our own excursion with http://stingraysailing.com/. There were only 10 of us on the Far Tortuga, a 43-foot long catamaran, with a fantastic crew. Swimming and feeding the stingrays were the highlight of our entire trip. George Town (and the surrounding areas of Grand Cayman) was the most comfortable of the places we visited, (even if they drive on the wrong side of the street!) and the people the most friendly. Not only could I picture spending a whole vacation here, I could picture living here, at least for the winter.

    Costa Maya, stop #3, with some nice reef snorkling, was our least favorite port. It was the only port of the four that I wouldn't want to visit for longer than a day. It was very flat, and rather desolate. Lots of "jungle" - short trees and flat, flat land; from a bus, you can see a very long way. The town square was pretty, but we didn't have the opportunity to appreciate it while we waited to see if our camera could be found. (I think we left it behind at Jungle Beach.) There was an ocean-fed pool in which you could spend a lot of time. We did our only ship-sponsored shore excursion while in Puerto Costa Maya. We took a 1/2 hour or so bus ride to the private Jungle Beach, owned by the cruise line. Once there, we did a private boat ride and snorkeling at the reef. (The ship had a tour that was similar: same bus ride to the same beach. Drive your own boat to the reef for snorkling with a large group. We saved $25 each, didn't mind that we didn't get to "boat blast" our own boats, and our tour guide took us and one other couple to a part of the reef which had less current (thus more fish?) and was easier to navigate.)

    After the flatness of the other stops, the hills of the island of Roatan, Honduras caught us by surprise. It was breathtakingly beautiful, perfect for our anniversary! The jungle looked like a jungle. (See the new TV program, Off the Map ... I don't know what country that is, but it looked like inland Roatan.) A few days before we left we tried to book a tour with http://www.stanleysubmarines.com/. We found a message from him when we arrived home, but unfortunately, we were already at sea when he sent it, and we chose to not have internet access aboard ship. I want to go back to Roatan, if only to go on this unique tour. But it was so pretty, I could go back and spend our entire vacation in Roatan in a heartbeat. We booked a tour right after we left the ship. They took us to both the east end AND the west end of the island. We saw the extremes: total and absolute poverty as well as incredible wealth. It was probably worth the extra $10 (which were "that day's rates!") for the Yubu Experience, to see the Garifuna dancers and learn about some history of the island of Roatan, even though it was a fairly short stop. The view from the golf course (supposedly where Tiger Woods plays) was unbelievable, although there were many high elevation spots looking down on the Caribbean. The beach at West End was great, wish we'd had our swimsuits. We took lots of photos, but many were taken from the windows of the vehicle that brought 8 of us around. Imagine a 1960's VW van! Lots of bounces!

    rusty2192, I'm sure you will have a fantastic time! I think you are doing the right thing booking your own shore excursions. Don't forget to bring (and bring home!) your camera. I can't wait to see your photos!
     

Share This Page